Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2013

Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)

Degree In

Leisure Studies

First Advisor

Mobily, Kenneth

First Committee Member

MacNeil, Richard

Second Committee Member

Walter, Kathy


Stigma proves to be a serious barrier for individuals living with mental illness, and research has shown that the media heavily contribute to and support damaging stereotypes about individuals with mental illness. This study examined how current films feed into fears about mental illness, especially the stereotype that individuals with serious mental illness are violent. A population of films released from 1990--2010 containing a character with schizophrenia or a related disorder was compiled and 30 films were randomly selected for viewing from this list. The films were scored for acts of violence committed by characters with and without mental illness, and the acts of violence were coded for severity. This study found that characters with mental illness committed significantly more acts of violence than characters without mental illness did. The significance of these findings along with recurring themes found in the movies are discussed in this paper.


Film, Mental Illness, Schizophrenia, Violence


v, 56 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 52-56).


Copyright 2013 Kristen Elizabeth Chmielewski